Real Life Stories

Twenty Years and Counting

With Beth’s support, Sherika achieved her dreams

Dr. Sherika Newman is the woman she grew up hoping she’d be thanks to determination, hard work and the support of her family and Big Sister. She is a Board Certified Physician in family medicine as well as hospice and palliative medicine. At 35 years old, she still considers herself a Little Sister to Beth Linzner. Rewind more than two decades, and you’d meet a girl facing very different circumstances.

Sherika grew up in a bad neighborhood with a very limited view of the opportunities available to her. Her mother was a single parent; her father was in jail and addicted to crack cocaine. She had faced incredible adversity, but had an unyielding desire to succeed in life. At age 13, she was matched with Beth through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County.

“She immediately put me at ease,” says Sherika. “She was a wealth of information and has been a mentor, teacher and life coach for me. Beth taught me that if I worked hard, I could achieve anything. Her resources and contacts in the community helped me as I traveled from puberty to adulthood.”

In her senior year of high school, Sherika became pregnant. In addition to the support of her family, she reached out to her Big Sister for help and advice. Through it all, Beth helped her to attain her goal of becoming a doctor, assisting her in college applications and acceptance into medical school. Beth’s husband even tutored Sherika’s son to ensure his academic success as well.

Of her Little Sister, Beth says, “Over the last couple of years I have learned that despite her overwhelming accomplishments in the face of severe adversity, Sherika’s challenges have not disappeared. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds need mentors long beyond their teenage years. They lack access to things in life that can help them get ahead that have little, if anything, to do with formal education: easy access to information, contacts that can help them maneuver through their adult years and people they know they can trust.”

Sherika and Beth still meet on a regular basis and discuss important life decisions. While Sherika credits much of her success to Beth’s caring guidance and persistence, Beth attributes it to Sherika’s pure drive and ambition. Truly, these two women have the utmost respect for one another, and their friendship will last a lifetime.

Today, not only is Sherika a successful doctor – a realization of her lifelong dream – she is also a board member for a local Big Brothers Big Sisters agency. Beth could not be more proud of the success her Little Sister has attained, and they both look forward to continue being part of each other’s future.

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